Finding a psychotherapist that is right for you can be a difficult task,
particularly if psychotherapy is new to you. This page suggests
methods of obtaining names of mental health professionals and questions
to ask before commiting to a period of psychotherapy.
First, gather information. Talk to your doctor and other health
professionals. Many family practitioners work in collaboration
with mental health professionals and can often refer you to someone they
know and trust. Consult the department of psychology at a
local college or university, local community mental health, or a clergy
member. You could also ask people at your place of worship, family
members, and friends who may know of, or have heard about
psychotherapists with a good reputation. The phone book will
contain a listing of most of the therapists in your area and may contain
some useful information about licensing, specialties, and location.
When obtaining names from the phonebook, it is still a good idea to ask
others if they know the professionals that interest you.
Once you have the name or names of several psychotherapists, ask
questions to insure that you will be working with someone that is right
Examples of questions to ask are:
Are you a licensed therapist?
How long have you been practicing?
What are your areas of speciality (i.e., adults, family therapy,
marriage counseling, etc.)?
What kind of treatment do you usually use, and why do you feel this
would be effective for my situation?
How long would you expect my treatment to last?
What are your fees?
Will you accept my insurance or HMO coverage?
Will you directly bill my insurance company?
If you encounter a therapist that is resistant to answering reasonable
questions, consider moving on. Psychotherapy should not be a
mystery and the therapist should not hold all the power.
Finalizing Your Decision
Once you've narrowed your choice, it will be important that you feel
comfortable with the therapist you choose since your treatment will
involve working together as a team. A good rapport with your
therapist is critical. Choose a therapist with whom you feel
comfortable. You may be able to determine this on the telephone,
however, the first appointment should be treated as a mutual interview
during which both client and therapist decide whether or not a good
working relationship is likely to form.